Tag Archives: breeding

Aquaponics: Breeding Tilapia

When we started our aquaponics venture almost 2 years ago, I was

Blue Tilapia
Blue Tilapia

only interested in raising a few fish to eat and fertilize our grow beds. I have never had fish in my life so I am surprised at how interesting fish are.

When we decided to build the greenhouse to start aquaponics gardening, we knew we would have to buy a few fish from a breeder and then breed them as our systems got larger and as we harvested stock for dinner. So I studied to learn more about tilapia breeding.

Our first breeding was by accident, as told in a previous post: Best Laid Plans: Our venture into aquaponics. Then we began purposely trying to breed, which yielded 300-400 offspring with each pairing. Thank God there is a market for tilapia.

Anyway we made a lot of mistakes, but I think we have now learned how to best breed when we need. Although accidents still happen in the big tanks-think hormonal 18 year old! Unfortunately most of the accidents end up getting eaten by the adult fish in the tank before we can extract them.

Here is a digest of what we have learned if one is thinking about breeding tilapia.

1) Have a separate breeding tank away from the aquaponics system so that the breeding can be better managed.

2) Start with about 5 fish around 5-6 months of age-say 2 males and 3 females. Be sure that the females are a little larger than their potential male mates. Male tilapia are very aggressive and will kill the females if they are not producing when the male is ready. Larger females can better defend themselves.

3) When the timing is right, a male and female will begin to pair. The male will be aggressive toward all other fish to keep them away from their fertile female. When this occurs, it is best to remove the other fish.

4) The female will then lay the eggs on the tank bottom in small piles.

5) The male will begin to hover over the eggs and fertilize each pile. This may occur 2-3 times until the female is satisfied that the eggs are fertilized. Once complete the male needs to be removed as he will be aggressive toward the babies and eat them.

6) Once fertilized, the female will scoop all the eggs into her mouth, keeping them warm and safe for around 7 days. Between day 7 and day 9, the female will release the new born fish into the tank. at release they are less than 1/16″ long.

2-3 day old fry
2-3 day oldĀ  fry

7) When the female feels safe enough to release the babies, now called fry, she can now be removed from the tank. We have had mothers eat their fry in the first few days.

8) Mother removed, the tank is now completely siblings-usually between 300 & 400. They are fed fry powder the first few weeks before moving into larger food or duckweed.

Process complete until we decide to mate again.

Tilapia approximately 1 week old
Tilapia approximately 1 week old from 1 pairing
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Rabbits through the seasons

As winter sets in in the mid-Atlantic, its time to” winterize” our rabbits.Knowing how to care for rabbits in year round is important to keeping a healthy stock.

We raise and breed Silver Fox and California’s as they are medium to large breed rabbits for meat and fur, not to mention the manure for the gardens. Currently our breed stock is one Silver Fox doe and 2 California bucks. My other doe died this summer unfortunately so I will replace her later this winter.

Sammie Our California Buck
Sammie Our California Buck

Because of a rabbits fur they are more susceptible to disease and death in the summer than in the winter. Keeping them well watered, in an open area and out of direct sun will usually keep them healthy and happy during warmer months.

In winter, their fur will do well to keep them warm, but they need to be kept in a more confined area that keeps them out of the elements. They should be sheltered well from the rain, snow and wind.

We had built a very strong chicken coop to house our chickens a

Rabbit Hutch
Rabbit Hutch

couple of years ago, but if you have followed our blog you know our chicken story. SIde note: we are still fighting the county to get chickens legalized. Hopefully with the new council we will be able to make some progress. Anyway, the chicken coop converted easily and nicely into a large rabbit hutch. We have 5 large cages and 3 smaller ones which we use for the babies when they are weaned.

In the summer all of the cages get the cool breezes and are shaded well, We also allow them to run on the ground some during the summer (old chicken run) to keep their nails trimmed and give them some freedom.

Hutch with shades pulled down
Hutch with shades pulled down

During the winter they get out very little and I have to “pull down the shades”. The shades being large sheets of plastic that will protect the hutch from wind, rain, and snow.

Our other Single rabbit hutch
Our other Single rabbit hutch

 

 

 

As warmer weather begins to show its face in March/April I will remove the shades to allow once again for the cool breezes to keep them happy.

In winter, water is also important, as the rabbits will dehydrate quickly if not kept with fresh water. We don’t use heated water trays, so on very cold days and nights, I must change the water supply 2 to 3 times a day. A little ice does not hurt, but if the top freezes enough they cannot drink, I change the water.

I enjoy my rabbits and they are helpful to our family gardening and food supply-maybe not as much as the chickens, but I will probably keep them even if chickens are legalized.